It's hard to believe it's been five years since we were all transfixed by the bizarre story of "Balloon Boy."
In case the details are fuzzy to you now, allow us to catch you up to speed: It all started when the Heene family of Colorado reported that their weather balloon had accidentally been released from the backyard—with their 6-year-old son Falcon inside. Naturally, the very nature of the story captured everyone's attention. And a lot of it had to do with the fascinating Heene family. Not only were they some kind of weather balloon enthusiasts, but they had also just appeared on ABC's Wife Swap a year before. And now, here they were, making headlines for losing their boy in a dramatic balloon chase. The story quickly swept the nation.
But as it turned out, little Falcon wasn't inside the weather balloon after all. He was safe and sound inside the house, asleep in the attic over the garage. When he was discovered, the focus shifted to his parents, and a few comments from Falcon himself led authorities (and the public) to believe the whole thing was one big hoax. In a plea deal, dad Richard and mom Mayumi wound up pleading guilty and serving some time in jail for causing widespread panic and having police chase a false lead.
But now, five years later, the Heenes are still professing their innocence.
"It was the easy way out rather than taking my kids to court, possibly losing them," Richard said of their guilty plea. "There was [also] the possibility [Mayumi] could get deported. I took the guilty plea to save my family."
But those days are long gone, he says, explaining that he prefers to talk about positive things, instead of dwelling on the past.
Today, the Heene family lives in Florida, where they moved to escape Colorado's "negative vibes," and home-schools their three sons. They also just happen to have formed a metal band, and are actually pulling some pretty big crowds.
"We have gotten so busy with the kids that we can now earn a living having the kids go out and perform," Richard says. "That's our main focus. They make tips and they sell merchandise. There's enough there to actually just survive."